Aggressively Pursuing the UN-balanced Life

Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.”

~ James Dean

For years, I’ve considered my obsessive-compulsive behavior to be a character flaw.

But, alas, I believe I will now embrace it.

Several weeks ago, I hired a coach to help keep me disciplined in specific areas of my life I deem important. We’ve had interesting conversations about dreams, goals, and mostly he has helped me take a view of things not just from the surface but from an “elevation of 20,000 feet.” It’s given me a new perspective on the totality of life.

In our last conversation as time came to a close, he pitched the idea of the importance of living a balanced life. He explained how too much focus in one area can detract from another, and the danger of creating “deficits” in some particular life compartments.

The balanced life.

I’ve thought about it a lot, and I’ve decided, as good as it sounds, it’s not for me.

I’m 46 years old. Had some major highs, and some of the lowest of the lows. Each high and low has been a great lesson. There have been some mistakes, and I’d take a “do-over” on some things, but I’ve had a great life, unbalanced as it may have been.

And I’m not sure I can change that now. The last thing I want to be is milquetoast. I don’t want to pursue a little bit of anything.

I want to stand on the equator, close my eyes and marvel at the magnificence of God‘s creation.

When I can wrap my mind around running again, I don’t want to exercise for 30 minutes a day. I want to train for one last marathon.

I want to make a difference in the lives of underprivileged children.

I want to exhibit the radical love that Jesus showed to the woman caught in adultery.

I want to feed the hungry, comfort the hurting.

I want to collaborate with a small group of committed people…and change the world.

I want to lavishly spoil my wife, kids, mom, best friend and other friends with love, kindness and gifts.

I want to write books, not for the sake of calling myself an author, but to be a best-selling writer, and to offer readers a new perspective on things that really matter.

I want to drink thousand calorie milkshakes whenever the urge hits me.

I want to live life to the RADICAL EXTREME.

A balanced life. It sounds so right…and yet so boring.

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The Binge: 12 Lessons Learned

“The only book that shall ever be written is the one that flows up from the heart, forced out by the inward pressure. When such a work has gestated within a man, it is almost certain that it will be written. The man who is thus charged with a message will not be turned back by any blase’ consideration. His book will be, to him, not only imperitave, it will be inevitable.” ~ A.W. Tozer from “God’s Pursuit of Man.”

Over the long weekend, I reverted to a style that has served me well from college to the present.

I was never good at composing research papers over extended periods of time, never embraced studying a bit each day, and really never have been good at doing a “little bit” of anything. For most of the things I do, I have to go “all-in.” It’s why I stay away from casinos.

I’m a binger.

It goes agains the conventional writing style that most experts will offer. Most say the best way to begin writing is just that, begin writing … write something each day, even if it’s just a few hundred words. That’s good advice for beginning writers, I’ll grant you. It creates a habit, and habits are good things for writers.

But if you’ve moved to a point where you’re more serious in your work, the notion of bits of pieces of writing daily may no longer work.

It’s become apparent that if my first book has any chance of being released by Thanksgiving – I must binge.

Last weekend, Friday 3am through Sunday noon was a 57 hour writing session with very few breaks. It was productive, resulting in nearly 10,000 words of decent copy.

When you write for three days straight, you inevitably learn some lessons. Here are 12 I learned:

  1. Without moving your cell phone’s switch to the “off” position, it will continue to ring.
  2. A.W. Tozer is magnificent.
  3. Periodic naps help.
  4. Grape juice keeps you going.
  5. One moment, you think what you’ve written is brilliant. On second read, it can sound really stupid.
  6. Sometimes, just sometimes, volume trumps quality.
  7. There’s no substitute for a good chair.
  8. The environment in which you write can make a huge difference.
  9. If you have a random thought, put it on paper immediately.
  10. Sometimes, it’s more important to write randomly, than chronologically.
  11. It’s ok to take a short Facebook break now and then, but just a short one.
  12. It’s going to take at least three more binges to get this thing done.

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Intentional Stress

My book editor, Bradley Harris - stretchmaster.

Without even knowing it, I’ve created intentional stress in my life … and those who are doing the pushing and pulling tell me it’s a good thing.

That’s easy for them to say.

I’m trying so hard these days to keep focused on what’s important: Study of the Word; using my gifts for a higher purpose; family; health; business; personal time; and investing financially in the future.

It’s time to forget the Harley Davidson, the dream of being a BBQ grillmaster and making a fortune …for now.

For now, it’s time to stay focused on what’s important, the theory being that all of the above may come later.

Earlier this week, I had my first meeting with my career/spiritual coach, Dick Savidge of Ministry Coaching International. His number-one job is to keep me focused on these things. Keep me disciplined. Keep me harnessed. Reign me in from the tasty distractions that satisfy my fleshly appetite. Oh, the mouth-watering hunger…

Then there’s my book editor, Bradley Harris, a Canadian born, expatriate, now living in the Deep South of Memphis, TN, who informs me now that his job is to stretch me, take me beyond what I might imagine and savor all the possibilities.

Then, there are my respected bosses and colleagues at my day job who envision a new product line, and want me on the front line of sales to make it happen. They don’t express it as sink or swim, but if you’re a guy like me, my self-imposed nature sure makes it feel that way.

So I pointed out to Brad yesterday “…you guys are pulling me in half a dozen different directions, when what I’m looking for is FOCUS.”

“So?” he responds.

He says it’s a good thing.

Have you ever bent an iron bar, or even a coat hanger back and forth. When bent back and forth, to and fro, the properties of certain metals have a tendency to heat up as the molecules become more and more active.

And you know what eventually happens as the bending and stretching continues? It breaks.

Lord, don’t let me break. I asked for the tension and the stress and you handed it to me on a silver platter.

You know what You’re doing. I sure hope I do.

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